Category Archives: Placemaking

Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

Changes in recreation demand align with placemaking in Michigan

two cyclist mountainbiker during a race in the woods“People choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, resources and opportunities to support thriving lifestyles. Michigan can attract and retain talent – especially young, knowledge-based talent – by focusing on how best to take advantage of the unique placemaking assets of our regional communities,” says the State of Michigan’s website.

For the past six years the state’s planning and economic development teams have focused their resources on creating attractive, healthy places to live and work. At the same time, the forms of recreation that are expanding are those favored by the very millennials placemaking targets. “Think REI instead of Cabela’s,” says this Bridge Magazine article.

Bridge reports that since 2009, the number of resident hunters in Michigan dropped 10 percent and the number of fishing licenses fell by a third.

“It is a different mentality,” said Brad Garmon of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The hunting and fishing generation was a lot about family, going away to deer camp together. The millennial generation is much more about weaving activities into their daily life.” Those activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, geocaching and kayaking.

The city of Marquette targets mountain bikers and, yes, surfers. Alpena promotes shipwreck diving, Tawas provides ideal winds for kiteboarders. If Grand Rapids can gain the necessary federal approvals, changes to the downtown portion of the Grand River could result in $16 to $19 million in annual economic impact from water tourism.

California photo essay

By Charlotte Wilson

When I travel, I’m always on the lookout for examples of good planning. While visiting in Davis, CA I spotted an innovative low-impact development drain and a parklet created by three businesses in parking spaces they licensed from the city. (Click on images to enlarge them).


Aging in Places


Metromode interviews CWA’s Dick Carlisle about sprawl

dick-sprawl-courtesy-doug-coombe-webDevelopers continue to build new subdivisions in the far reaches of metro Detroit, but changing tastes and demographic demand are pulling people, especially the young and old, back into close-in, urban centers said CWA President Dick Carlisle in this Metromode article.

While studies have ranked Detroit the 12th most sprawling metro area in the country, and one of the fastest sprawling, Dick said baby boomers who want smaller homes in a walkable community will join with millennials, 16-35, who don’t want to drive and prefer smaller, lower-cost housing, to drive demand in urban places.

“The biggest city in the state still hasn’t yet fully responded to the trend for more walkable urban placemaking,” Dick said. “The pressure is now on, and the timing couldn’t be better.” He said a comprehensive transit system is essential to the trend.

“At some point in time we have to begin to understand that there’s going to be a whole generation of people that either don’t want to or will not be able to own a car,” he said. “Frankly, that’s going to cross generations.”

6 CWA communities are among Michigan’s best places to live

By John Enos

The Detroit Free Press recently published an article of the top 25 places in Michigan to live. This article was based on a study by that looked at several factors including, quality of education, nightlife, health and fitness and family amenities. Carlisle/Wortman provides continuing planning assistance to  six of the top 25 places. Just sayin’.

  1. Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County
  2. Scio Township, Washtenaw County
  3. Pittsfield Charter Township, Washtenaw County
  4. Troy, Oakland County
  5. Saline, Washtenaw County
  6. Northville, Wayne County

Suburban living challenge those who want to age in place

By Dick Carlisle

The aging of our population will be, without a doubt, the single most significant factor changing the way we plan communities for the foreseeable future. Older adults would be better served in towns with smaller homes; more compact, walkable living environments; close proximity to commercial, social and cultural amenities, and alternative transportation, yet many can’t or don’t want to leave their suburban homes, as this Miami Herald article reports.